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Amanda began cooking at the age of 13, and soon realized that she wanted to be a chef. She graduated from the Natural Gourmet Cookery School Chef's Training Program in 1998, and immediately began building her impressive resume working with a series of renowned chefs.
After culinary school, Cohen became a line cook at Diner Bar, an eclectic neighborhood bar and diner in Harlem where she spent three years preparing buffalo wings (for which she became famous), burgers, steaks, fish, and comfort food on a fast-moving, two-person line that handled up to 200 covers per night.
In 2002, Chef Cohen launched Teany on the Lower East Side tea house for music star Moby. After two years at the helm of Teany, where she completely redesigned the menu, she opened celebrity chef Matthew Kenney's restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.
Then, in 2005, Chef Cohen left Pure Food and Wine to become Chef de Cuisine at Heirloom, an Orchard Street restaurant devoted to vegetarian cooking. She designed the menu at Heirloom and the restaurant went on to win Time Out New York's Reader's Choice Award for "Best Vegetarian Restaurant" in 2006.
Now Cohen brings the skills, talent and knowledge of ingredients and love for vegetables to her own venture with Dirty Candy. A vegetable-focused restaurant, Dirt Candy sets out to do for vegetables what Peter Lugar's does for steak and what BLT Fish does for seafood. "Vegetables are amazing. Made out of little more than water, sunlight, and dirt they wind up growing into a candy store full of color and flavor. And that's what I want Dirt Candy to be: nature's candy store."
Living and traveling in Asia and Europe gave her an appreciation and intimate knowledge of cultures, ingredients, and spices that have colored her bold approach to flavors and given her an identifiable style and won her kudos. "I believe in strong, simple flavors and then layering those flavors into a more complex experience. I can't stand food that's not one thing or another. If I'm eating something spicy I want it to be the spiciest thing I've ever had. If it's salty, I want it to be intensely salty. If it's a dish with lemons I want that strong, bright, sharp taste of citrus. I hate wimpy food."